Winter Dinner for Six
stay cozy this winter without sacrificing flavor or fun in the kitchen
menu by Maureen White
Sweetened Dates Wrapped in Bacon
Pine Nut-Crusted Goat Cheese and Spinach Salad
Pan-Seared Halibut with Butternut Squash Risotto
Chocolate Almond Fondue
Suggested wine: Pinot Noir (current favorite is Hansel, from California)
Pan-Seared Halibut with Butternut Squash Risotto and Ginger Sauce
2 lbs butternut squash
4 cups non-fat chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat oven to 450.
Halve squash lengthwise and discard seeds. Peel squash and dice into 1/4-inch pieces. Place in an oiled shallow baking pan and bake for 15 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Stir the squash occasionally while baking.
In a saucepan, bring broth to a simmer and keep at a slight simmer, covered.
In a heavy pot over medium heat, cook onion, garlic, and gingerroot in butter, stirring, until softened.
Stirring constantly, add rice. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Stir in 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.
Continue simmering and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next. You may have leftover broth.
Stir in squash pieces, then cheese and salt, and continue to simmer, stirring, for about 1 minute.
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup shallots
1/3 cup fresh ginger
1/2 cup cream
Combine first three ingredients in saucepan over high heat—boil until reduced. Add cream and boil about 3 minutes.
6 7-ounces fillets of fresh halibut
salt and pepper
Brush each fillet with olive oil, coating it lightly. Dust each fillet with salt and pepper.
Coat the bottom of sauté pan with oil—just enough to cover entire pan—and heat over medium-high heat until warm.
Place each fillet in pan and sear until cooked through on each side. Do not overcook.
Divide risotto evenly among six plates. Place one halibut fillet on top of each risotto mound. Spoon sauce around outside of plate.
Chocolate Almond Fondue
6 tablespoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons honey
1 8-ounce bag of chocolate morsels
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
assorted fresh fruit (strawberries, sliced bananas, pineapple chunks, peeled pear wedges, orange segments)
Bring cream and honey to simmer in heavy saucepan. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Remove from heat. Whisk in almond extract.
Pour fondue into bowl. Place on platter surrounded by fruit. Use skewers for serving.
Maureen White currently resides in Manhattan, but is proud to be from Flint, Michigan. She is an actor and host of a local cable television talk show. She cooks whenever she can and is currently working on a line of sophisticated comfort food.